Conference Hat Trick – QCon, RubyConf, JRubyConf

I’ve just come back from several different conferences. It’s been tiring but also very rewarding. The conferences I attended and presented at was QCon San Francisco, RubyConf and JRubyConf. I thought I’d just mention some of the highlights from these three events.

First QCon – after JAOO, QCon is my favorite conference. They always manage to put together an interesting week with great speakers and lots of things to learn. This year, me and Martin Fowler did a full-day tutorial about domain specific languages.

During the Wednesday I spent most of my time hanging out and chatting with people. I did attend Josh Blochs and Bob Lee’s Java Puzzler presentation. This is always an entertaining hour. I also enjoyed Douglas Crockfords keynote about the history and future of JavaScript. Hearing how this all happened is always enlightening.

On the Thursday I had my track about languages. I think it went very well, my speakers did a great job. Eishay Smith talk about Scala, Stu Halloway about Clojure, Martin Fowler about Ruby, Jonathan Felch about Groovy and Amanda Laucher and Josh Graham about F#. I’m very happy with how it went, actually.

During Friday I mostly sat in on Neal Fords DSL track. My colleague Brian Guthrie started out with a strong hour about internal DSLs in various languages. Ioke got a few code examples, which was fun. After that Neal and Nate Schutta talked about MPS. I haven’t seen this much detail about MPS before so it was helpful.

After lunch Don Box and Amanda Laucher did a talk about the technology formerly known as Oslo. I didn’t think this tech was anything cool at all until I saw this presentation. In retrospect this was probably my favorite presentation of the conference. What came together was how you can use M as a fully typed language with some interesting characteristics, and also the extremely powerful debug features. It’s nice indeed.

Glenn Vanderburg put forward some arguments against language workbenches. This made for an interesting hour but I’m not entirely sure I buy his arguments. And after that Magnus Christerson from Intentional showcased what they’ve been working on lately. Very impressive stuff as usual.

I only spent one day at RubyConf, but it was still enough to get a feeling for what was going on, spend some time with several people I haven’t met before and so on. Good times. Charles Nutter did a very good presentation about his Ruby mutants (Duby and Surinx). After that Ryan Davis and Aaron Patterson did a hilarous presentation about weird software.

JRubyConf was a total success. All of the presentations were very interesting, and provided insight into what people liked about JRuby and what they wanted from it. It was fantastic to see so many people come together just for JRuby. It’s great to be part of that. I did a presentation about testing with JRuby, and then I was part of the closing panel. Both went well.

All in all a great week of conferences.

QCon San Francisco, RubyConf and JRubyConf

I’m gearing up for the next conference stretch. This time it’s San Francisco next week, and I really hope to see lots of people at these conferences – they are gearing up to be something special.

First QCon San Francisco. Except for JAOO, QCon is the best general developer conference I’ve ever been to. Go check out the schedule at This year I’m very excited about doing a full day tutorial about domain specific languages together with Martin Fowler.

I’m also in charge of the languages track, where I have five people who will talk about their experiences with different languages. This time there will not be much introduction to the languages, but instead experience reports, objective descriptions of what worked, what didn’t work and how you can improve your chances of success. The languages covered are Scala, Clojure, Ruby, Groovy and F#. Should be great fun.

Hopefully I will have lots of time to see other presentations too. There are many I would love to see. ThoughtWorks also happens to be a sponsor of QCon, so there will be a booth where it’s a big possibility you can find me or my colleagues.

I will do one day of RubyConf – the Saturday. Funnily enough I haven’t ever been to RubyConf, so I’m looking forward to this too.

Finally, the first ever JRubyConf will happen next Sunday. The program looks really interesting. I’m going to be talking about testing, and also be part of the ending JRuby Core Team panel.

I’m very excited about these conferences. Hope to see you there!

Upcoming talks

There hasn’t been much interesting happening this summer, but the fall is shaping up to be pretty busy. I will be talking at several different conferences, and thought I’d mention when and where I will be appearing.

First, this week I’m presenting at JavaZone in Oslo. I will present at 11:45 tomorrow, talking about Ioke.

Next week is the JVM Language Summit in Santa Clara. It is shaping up to be a great collection of people with many interesting discussions and talks. Take a look at the details for the talks. The people there are some of the most experienced language developers and implementors in the world. It should be a blast. I will do a talk about Ioke, and also a workshop about the challenges of improving Ioke’s performance.

After that I will attend RubyFoo in London, Oct 2-3, where I will talk about JRuby. RubyFoo will feature Matz, Sam Aaron, Aslak Hellesøy, Adam Wiggins and me. It should be great fun!

At JAOO this year (Oct 4-9 in Aarhus, Denmark) I will do a tutorial about testing Java code with JRuby. This conference also looks like it will be great. Many interesting talks and speakers. And of course, JAOO is generally the best conference I’ve ever been to.

At Øredev in Malmö, Sweden (Nov 2-6), I will be talking about Ioke.

And finally, at QCon SF in San Francisco (Nov 16-20) I will be hosting a track on emerging languages. After JAOO, QCon is my favorite conference, so I think it will be very nice too.

So, several interesting conferences coming up. Hope to see many of you there!

QCon San Francisco recap

So, I literally just got back from San Francisco, having attended QCon there. As always, it turned out to be a great event, with fantastic people and a very interesting presentations on the schedule. As it turns out, me and Nick’s tutorial was on the afternoon of the Monday, so after that everything could just get better. … In fact, the tutorial ended up working very well. I was happy to have Nick there, so I didn’t have to do all the talking myself. And Nick is much better at Rails than me anyway. So it was definitely a success.

The morning before out tutorial I spent in the Erlang tutorial, which was fun. Francesco is a very good teacher, and we got through lots of material.

Having finished my stuff the first day, I spent the rest of the week cruising around, relaxing and hanging out with nice people. The Tuesday I ended up in Martin’s, Neal’s and Rebecca’s tutorial on DSLs. I’ve been in this tutorial several times, but it just keeps getting better. Especially Rebecca’s pieces on parsing turned out to be very well polished this time. And of course, they are all great presenters.

The Wednesday keynote with Martin and Rebecca was about architecture, and how agile can help architecture groups with their problems as well as help bridge the gap between developers and architects, that often exist in larger organizations. Very well done.

The rest of the Wednesday I sat in the “Ruby in the Enterprise” track. I found out that Merb 1.0 runs very well on JRuby. Jason Seifer pronounced JRuby the winner among all the existing Ruby implementations, which was nice.

And then I had to run away and do an impromptu JRuby presentation at the nearby Girls In Tech Developer Forum.

At the end of the day, I saw Dean Wampler mix up all the free floating ideas about polyglot programming, and talk about it in something that approached a cohesive whole (which I’ve never been able to do). A well done presentation.

I can’t say I got too much out of Kent’s evening keynote, though. I ended up going out for a quiet dinner instead.

The Thursday began Tim Bray talking about the future of storage mediums. This presentation was too far away from my interests to produce anything stronger than a “meh…”.

After that I have a large gap in the schedule – I was supposed to see some presentations, but ended up hacking on a new language grammar with Kresten instead. Great fun of course.

After lunch I sat in on Brian’s talk on concurrency with the fork-join framework. This one I think I’d already seen, so I ended up working on Ioke during it.

Dennis Byrne gave a very cool talk on DSLs in Erlang. There is some stuff you can do that’s totally unbelievable. Best talk of the day. Possibly of the week.

After Dennis talk I’m not sure what I did actually. No memory. Oh, that’s right, I looked at the JUG panel and then went to the speakers dinner. The JUG panel was among others Rod Johnson, Bob Lee and one of the Seam guys. There were some mention of Rails in a way that meant the persons mentioning it hadn’t actually used it. There was also some static typing bias (especially from Bob who said that static typing was objectively better than dynamic typing).

During the Friday I spent some time in the functional language track (and saw a very nice talk about using Haskell to work with music), and I also saw Eric Evans give a very good talk about Strategic Design.

And that was QCon San Francisco. A very good conference, as usual.

QCon San Francisco recap

Last week I attended QCon San Francisco, a conference organized by InfoQ and Trifork (the company behind JAOO). It must admit that I was very positively surprised. I had expected it to be good, but I was blown away by the quality of most presentations. The conference had a system where you rated sessions by handing in a green, yellow or red card – I think I handed in two yellow cards, and the rest was green.

Everything started out with tutorials. I didn’t go to the first tutorial day, but the second day tutorial was my colleagues Martin Fowler and Neal Ford talking about Domain Specific Languages, so I decided to attend that. All in all it was lots of very interesting material. Sadly, I managed to get slightly food poisoned from the lunch, so I didn’t stay the whole day out.

On Wednesday, Kent Beck started the conference proper with a really good keynote on why Agile development really isn’t anything else than the way the world expects software development to happen nowadays. It’s clear to see that the Agile way provides many of the ilities that we have a responsibility to deliver. A very good talk.

After that Richard Gabriel delivered an extremely interesting presentation on how to think about ultralarge, self sustaining systems, and how we must shift the way we think about software to be able to handle large challenges like this.

The afternoons sessions was dominated by Brian Goetz extremely accomplished presentation on concurrency. I really liked seeing most of the knowledge available right now into a 45 minute presentation, discussion most of the things we as programmers need to think about regarding concurrency. I am so glad other people are concentrating on these hard problems, though – concurrency scares me.

The panel on the future of Java was interesting, albeit I didn’t really agree with some of the conclusions Rod Johnson and Josh Bloch arrived at.

The day was capped by Richard Gabriel doing a keynote called 50 in 50. I’m not sure keynote is the right word. A poem, maybe? Or just a performance. It was very memorable, though. And beautiful. It’s interesting that you can apply that word to something that discusses different programming languages, but there you have it.

During the Thursday I was lazy and didn’t attend as many sessions as I did on the Wednesday. I saw Charles doing the JRuby presentation, Neal Ford discussing DSLs again, and my coworker Jim Webber rant about REST, SOA and WDSL. (Highly amusing, but beneath the hilarious surface Jim definitely had something very important to say about how we build Internet applications. I totally agree. Read his blog for more info.)

The Friday was also very good, but I missed the session about Second Life architecture which seemed very interesting. Justin Gehtland talked about CAS and OpenID in Rails, both solutions that I think is really important, and have their place in basically any organization. Something he said that rang especially true with me is that a Single Sign-On architecture isn’t just about security – it’s a way to make it easier to refactor your applications, giving you the possibility to combine or separate applications at will. Very good. Although it was scary to see the code the Ruby CAS server uses to generate token IDs. (Hint, it’s very easy to attack that part of the server.

Just to strike a balance I had to satisfy my language geekery by attending Erik Meijer’s presentation on C#. It was real good fun, and Erik didn’t get annoyed at the fact that me and Josh Graham interrupted him after more or less every sentence, with new questions.

Finally, I saw half of Obie’s talk about the new REST support in Rails 2.0 (and he gave me a preview copy of his book – review forthcoming). There is lots of stuff there that can really make your application so much easier to code. Nice.

The day ended with two panels, first me, Charles, Josh Susser, Obie and James Cox talking about Rails, the future of the framework and some about the FUD that inevitably happens.

The final panel was Martin Fowler moderating me, Erik Meijer, Aino Vonge Corry and Dan Pritchett, talking about the things we had seen at the conference. The discussion ranged from large scale architecture down to concurrency implementations. Hopefully the audience were satisfied.

All in all, an incredibly good time.